By Keeva Stratton
The Women on the 6th Floor
Directed by: Philippe Le Guay
Starring: Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Natalia Verbeke
Reviewer Rating: 3.5/5
Release Date: December 15
In 1960s bourgeois Paris, the Spanish maids live in near squalor as they service the lives of the extremely rich. But, while these women appear to have little by way of material wealth, they certainly have a wealth of spirit that unites them and keeps them buoyant—a spirit that notably appears absent in their bourgeois counterparts.
When wealthy stockbroker Jean-Louis finds himself without a maid and generally lacking inspiration, he hires Maria, a young Spanish maid who both intrigues and inspires him. It is on the sixth floor, the home of his servants, where Jean-Louis discovers a renewed vibrancy, spirit and even romance.
The Women on the 6th Floor is a simple-yet-sweet French comedy that offers us a bevvy of big female personalities to delight, bombast and enjoy.
RESCU: How did you create these very unique characters?
Philippe Le Guay: I would say that I am in every character, including the Spanish women (laughs). I feel that the job of a director is to feel a kind of tenderness for the character’s situation. Everything comes from the character. I wanted to have six women, each with their own personalities, to have several portraits. These women all had names and identities; where they came from and what they had in mind was clear. Carmen the Republican, the very ambitious Theresa who came to France to get the rich husband, Maria who has a secret from her past life, and Conception who is like the Aunt to the entire group. Once you’ve got the characters everything seems more obvious. We really wanted to catch the Spanish spirit.
RESCU: Is the film a critique of bourgeois France?
Philippe Le Guay: There is a paradox because the actor who plays Jean-Louis (Fabrice Luchini) is the complete opposite of the character he plays. I come from a bourgeois family and I knew what kind of character I wanted to create. The bourgeois can be very arrogant and stuck in their ways. The character of Jean-Louis is quite an empty shell. He is there because he was born into this environment—his grandfather was a stockbroker, his father a stockbroker and now he. Even in his love life, his marriage, you feel that it was dictated by the wife and not by him.
RESCU: We can’t help but love all the characters, including Jean-Louis’s wife; was that deliberate?
Philippe Le Guay: His wife has a lack of confidence that makes us like her. Like Jean-Louis she is not a figure of authority. This gives her a kind of naivety and fragility that helps her character. She has a sense of melancholy and at the same time a great sense of humour.
RESCU: Were you concerned that as a cultural comedy, the humour would be lost in translation?
Philipe Le Guay: The humour is mostly through situations more than words. What is funny in the film comes more from what you feel from the characters. In comedy I am really more concerned with the situations rather than the lines.
For more information visit: www.thewomenonthe6thfloor.com.au